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Pittsylvania County News

Posted on: January 18, 2022

Board of Supervisors January Recap

BOS Recap Graphic

The Board of Supervisors made some important decisions during Tuesday Night's Business meeting. Below are some of the highlights: 

Instituted One-Time $500 Hazard Pay Bonuses for Fire and Rescue Volunteers

 The Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday night to institute a one-time, $500 volunteer hazard pay bonus for all active fire and rescue volunteers. 

"This Board of Supervisors wants to not only recognize the volunteers that serve our community, but also give them a tangible thank you," said Chairman Vic Ingram. "We are thrilled to be able to invest these ARPA funds into our volunteers."

The Board voted to reallocate $168,500 in funds from the American Rescue Act Plan to put in a budget line for this active volunteer hazard pay bonus program. That means as many as 337 volunteers are eligible to receive the incentive. With input from Pittsylvania County Public Safety, this program defines active volunteers as those that have run a total of 50 calls or 10% of the total agency call volume for calendar year 2021, whichever is less. 

This comes after 163 volunteers received $500 vaccine incentive bonuses from a program instituted in September. The active volunteers that received the $500 vaccine incentive will not be eligible to receive this incentive as well. 

The funds for this volunteer fire and rescue hazard pay bonus came from the leftovers of two other ARPA-funded programs: the employee bonus program and the volunteer vaccine incentive program. 

In a separate motion, the Board voted to remove any requirements that Volunteer Fire and Rescue Agencies provide the County annual financial reports and/or audits of all available funds. Chairman Ingram requested this language be removed from future Budget Resolutions and that random audits no longer be required for County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Agencies. Since June of 2020, the Board voted required that two Volunteer Fire and Rescue Agencies be randomly selected annually for audits to be performed at the County’s expense, and this resolution revokes that requirement effective immediately. 

The Board also passed a motion for staff to advertise changes to the Pittsylvania County Public Safety Ordinance regarding the composition of the Pittsylvania County Fire and Rescue Commission. Instead of the current structure, which is four citizens and four fire and rescue representatives appointed by the Board as a whole, this setup would allow each Supervisor to appoint a fire and rescue representative from their district. Then agencies would appoint one community leader for each quadrant of the county. 

A public hearing will be held during February's Business Meeting before the Board can vote to enact these changes. 

Approved a Resolution in Support of Placing a 1% Sales Tax Increase for School Capital Costs on the November Ballot 

After a referendum for a 1% sales tax increase to fund school capital costs failed by just 14 votes in November of 2021, the Board of Supervisors, at the request of Pittsylvania County Schools, voted unanimously to approve a resolution to place that same question on the ballot in November 2022. 

"This Board of Supervisors has a steadfast belief and appreciation for Pittsylvania County Schools, and we are hopeful that with better marketing this 1% sales tax increase will be passed in November," said Vic Ingram, Chairman of the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors. "We believe that this equitable tax, which failed by such a small margin in 2021, will ultimately benefit our school system without placing any additional burden on County property owners." 

The resolution that the Board of Supervisors approved instructed County leaders to file a petition with the Circuit Court to have this item included on the ballot in November's general election. If approved, the projected $3.3 million in annual revenue would be used exclusively for capital projects for the construction or renovation of county schools. Pittsylvania County Schools have significant capital needs in the coming years. Pittsylvania County constructed new middle schools in 2001 and renovated the four high schools in 2007. There are significant maintenance needs at the now 20-year-old middle schools and each of the county's 10 elementary schools, which are 21 years old at the newest. Many are significantly older than that, and thus have serious maintenance needs. Much of the primary upcoming costs are related to HVAC and roof repairs and replacements. 

The question on the November ballot will read as follows: “Should Pittsylvania County be authorized to levy a general retail sales tax at a rate not to exceed one percent (1%), provided the revenue from the sales tax shall be used solely for capital projects for the construction or renovation of schools in Pittsylvania County and that the sales tax shall expire by September 30, 2042?"

The primary change between the question on the ballot on November, 2021 and what will be on the ballot this November is the duration of the sales tax. The time period has been reduced from 30 years to 20 years. 

Increasing Pittsylvania County's sales tax by 1% would bring the total sales tax to 6.3%, which is less than the 6.75 -7.5% charged in North Carolina and in par with what is charged in the City of Danville. 

State Code allows Pittsylvania County to finance the construction or renovation projects by bonds or loans, all of which must be repaid by 2051. In other words, the expected revenue from the additional 1% sales tax will cover the debt payments needed for the renovation and construction. 

Pittsylvania County Schools have sought a variety of other funding mechanisms to cover some of these needed capital projects, Pittsylvania County Schools Superintendent Mark Jones said during a presentation on Tuesday night. For instance, $5.6 million is coming from a solar power project, over $1 million will come from a performance contract, and $12 million in CARES Act funds. 

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